MMOs by the numbers since 1991
World of Warcraft is a household name — even if you’ve never played a video game, there’s a high chance you know the game. Whether it’s through those wacky television ads with Mr. T from the A-Team, or busses clad with posters and billboards in cities.
World of Warcraft has been the “title to beat” from 2004 until 2021. 17 years holding the champion belt, something a boxing heavyweight could only dream of. Throughout that time game developers tried to crack the code — many “WoW clones” appeared and quickly disappeared (perhaps you remember Warhammer Online).
It’s not until the last 8–12 months where World of Warcraft’s secret sauce has finally been beaten. Yes, the decline has been happening for quite a few years now with players unhappy with the direction of the game — automated grouping systems in-game taking away the “social” aspect, the whole game becoming a mindless zombie-like grind for the best gear pieces and guild chats that are reminiscent of tumbleweed rolling by a wild-west ghost town… aaaand lets not mention what Blizzard has been up to behind closed doors.
However, it’s not until recently that a couple of other studios have really been capitalizing on the fabulous timing. All these users dropping off need a new home, and for a while, this new home wasn’t all too obvious. Until now. Final Fantasy 14 and Lost Ark are two games which have been making massive moves to lure these unhappy WoW-goers to their game. Both adopting very similar strategies to do so (one of them being making a better game, I guess) — but one tactic in particular that I want to talk about is the use of influencers and UGC.
If you’ve ever played WoW — or pretty much any MMO for that matter, you’ve likely heard of Asmongold. Asmongold is pretty much the godfather of World of Warcraft. His followers are incredibly loyal, and he has more than 1.5 million of them (on YouTube alone), averaging 35,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch. If that’s not reach, then I don’t know what is. (I could insert another boxing reference here but one is enough)
Now, I could make a list of names as long as my arm of influencers that suddenly jumped ship to Final Fantasy (or Lost Ark, or both). None however more notable than Asmongold, and perhaps none quite so good an example.
Asmongold first jumped on Final Fantasy in June 2021, not long after falling out of love with World of Warcraft, berating the game developers and stating “I’m sick of it”.
His first Final Fantasy stream was watched by over 210k concurrent viewers, he earned 7,000 subscribers and earning over $30,000 — for a day, Asmongold was the face of Twitch.
From as early as level 2, Asmongold was hoarded by players everywhere he went — which goes to show just how big his fan base is, but also how loyal and interested they are.
It’s no surprise, that with big names such as Asmongold, that your games player-base will have an influx of new players.
However, FFXIV isn’t just coasting on the prowess of influencers and the content they create, but also UGC. The developers behind FFXIV have made some genius decisions, with a more sandbox-like approach to what users can do. Players can build and decorate their own houses and invite others to join and they can dress their characters up in tons of different costumes.
Players also have the ability to play from a massive selection of instruments and create your own songs in game… there’s so much to do that extends the game experience further, and creates share-able moments. Take a look at this video, players choreographing a dance routine while others play “The Final Countdown” and “Pumped Up Kicks”.
Admittedly, this video in particular is a little busy with a lot going on — but it demonstrates the ability for users to create their own content, and by creating content, I don’t just mean making clips of cool plays or screenshots of nice landscapes, but literally adding content to the game.
Most players get drawn into Final Fantasy 14 by what they call the “MSQ” — which stands for “Main Story Quest”. All credit to the writers of FF14, the story has impeccable character development and pacing. The story is told with a mixture of text and voice-acted scenes, and there’s a TON of content to get through. But, once that’s over, there is still an endless amount of things to do, and to enjoy, with the players of the game itself. The gameplay loops are unbeatable and I can only imagine that FF14 isn’t going to stop here.